Harper government to ‘streamline review process’ for major resource projects


The federal government is banking on domestic resource development to drive over $500 billion in investment over the next decade and it plans to streamline stakeholder involvement for that sector in its 2012 federal budget.

“As the 21st century unfolds, it is increasingly clear that Canada’s energy and natural resources are massive assets to our country in the global economy. The oil and gas, mining, and forestry sectors directly employ more than three-quarters of a million Canadians,” explained Jim Flaherty, Canada’s finance minister in his budget speech.

“They are driving economic growth across the country. They are creating good jobs not only directly but also indirectly, in manufacturing, clerical work, skilled trades, and financial services.”


Keeping with tradition, Canadian finance minister Jim Flaherty bought new shoes in advance of the 2012 Canadian budget, announced this afternoon. Courtesy of Ministry of Finance

In 2010, natural resource sectors employed over 760,000 workers in communities throughout the country reads the 2012 federal budget. Flaherty noted potential major project opportunities are plenty thanks to natural gas in British Columbia, oil and minerals on the Prairies, the Ring of Fire in Ontario, Plan Nord in Quebec, hydro power in Atlantic Canada, and mining in Canada’s North.

The government has found that those who wish to invest in Canadian resources have faced an increasingly complicated “web of rules and bureaucratic reviews” that have grown over time, adding costs and delays that can deter investors and undermine the economic viability of major projects, the federal budget reads.

Flaherty said the government recognizes that the existing system of reviews and approvals for resource development needs reform. More than 500 “major economic projects” are planned in this sector nationwide in the next 10 years. The federal government will bring forward legislation to implement system-wide improvements.

“We will implement responsible resource development and smart regulation for major economic projects, respecting provincial jurisdiction and maintaining the highest standards of environmental protection,” continued Flaherty in his speech.

“We will streamline the review process for such projects, according to the following principle: one project, one review, completed in a clearly defined time period. We will ensure that Canada has the infrastructure we need to move our exports to new markets.”

The Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes to streamline the review process for major economic projects, support consultation with Aboriginal peoples, and strengthen pipeline and marine safety. This includes system-wide legislative improvements to the review process for major economic projects that will establish clear timelines, reduce duplication and regulatory burdens, and focus resources on large projects where the potential environmental impacts are the greatest.

The budget proposes investments totalling $165 million over two years for responsible resource development that creates jobs while protecting the environment. This includes:

• $54 million over two years to renew the Major Projects Management Office initiative to support effective project approvals

• $13.6 million over two years to support consultations with Aboriginal peoples to ensure that their rights and interests are respected.

The budget also proposes $35.7 million over two years to support responsible energy development. This includes:

• New regulations which will enhance the existing tanker inspection regime by strengthening vessel inspection requirements.

• Appropriate legislative and regulatory frameworks related to oil spills, and emergency preparedness and response.

• A review of handling processes for oil products by an independent international panel of tanker safety experts.

• Improved navigational products, such as updated charts for shipping routes.

• Research to improve our scientific knowledge and understanding of marine pollution risks, and to manage the impacts on marine resources, habitats and users in the event of a marine pollution incident.

Among the other resource development initiatives in the budget:

• $13.5 million over two years to strengthen pipeline safety.

• $47 million over two years to the Northern Pipeline Agency to support federal regulatory responsibilities related to the Alaska Pipeline Project.

• $1 million over two years to expand Metal Mining Effluent Regulations to non-metal diamond and coal mines.

• Extension of the temporary 15-per-cent Mineral Exploration Tax Credit for flow-through share investors for an additional year.

• Amendment of the Coasting Trade Act to improve access to modern, reliable seismic data for offshore resource development.